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Business Enterprise Program (BEP)

Business Enterprise Program allows blind individuals the opportunity to become a food service or vending operator. This program is administered by the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  It is similar to a franchise. State and federal rules and regulations provide guidelines for administration of the program, as well as benefits for the operators, that are not found in private business. 

Federal rules under the Department of Education/Rehabilitation Services Administration can be found at the following link: 

State statutes regarding BEP can be found at the following link:

The BE Program in Idaho has grown from two locations in 1970 to twenty-two locations in 1998.  Most of the expansion occurred during the 1980’s. With the economic growth in Idaho, the future for BEP looks bright. Originally, the program was established to provide food service or gift shop type service in public buildings. Idaho, as well as several other states, has expanded outside the “norm” to include other types of businesses.


The operators are considered self-employed. The ICBVI does not subsidize these businesses. We provide the equipment necessary to operate the business and provide the initial inventory for one week. After that, they are on their own with on-going supervision available from the ICBVI supervisor of the Business Enterprise Program.


Benefits for BEP operators include medical insurance, life insurance, and a retirement plan. The program also provides the opportunity for continual management growth and further training for all operators.

Transfer and Promotion

The transfer and promotion policy allows an operator to move from one location to another. This provides an opportunity for personal, management, and monetary growth.

When a location becomes available, operators are given an opportunity to bid on the site and interview for the opening. A three-member panel evaluates each operator on the basis of his/her skills and experience, and selects the most qualified person for the position. The training and continuing education provided by the program assists operators in their employment goals.

When an operator leaves a location, he/she must leave the equivalent dollar amount of product to cover the cost of his/her initial inventory.


The Business Enterprise Program contends that all aspects in the current curriculum are necessary for any business, not just cafeterias. The fundamentals of business are the same whether selling a candy bar or a steak. One has to understand wholesale and retail costs, merchandising and display, and food cost and portion control.

The Business Enterprise Program believes it is just as important to promote yourself as it is to promote your business. And, it’s just as important to promote your cafeteria as it is to promote your vending machine business. It is important to get to know your customer’s names, likes, needs, wants, and dislikes in any business no matter the product or service you are selling.

We do not expect any less skill and attitude from blind people in our Business Enterprise Program than we expect from a sighted person in a similar business.

If you or someone you know might benefit from the services of the ICBVI Business Enterprise Program, contact Justin Fish, Business Enterprise Program Supervisor, at, (208) 639-8387 or 1-800-542-8688.

  • Business Enterprise Program Prerequisites (Word) or (PDF)
  • Business Enterprise Program Curriculum (Word) or (PDF)
  • Business Enterprise Program By-Laws-2017 (Word) or (PDF)
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